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Prudent Estate Planning Can Prevent Family Disputes

It’s a situation that estate planning attorneys frequently come across. Failure to have a watertight will can lead to stressful even hostile, disputes among family members. Proper estate planning can prevent family strife, and ensure a smooth distribution of assets.

One of the biggest reasons why people postpone estate planning matters is their belief that their family is a close-knit, loving one. They fail to even consider the possibility of any friction or dispute arising over asset distribution in the future. Unfortunately, when it comes to inheritances, even the closest family can be prey to petty disagreements, hostilities, and jealousies that can cause the estate distribution process to drag on for years and years through the court system.

One of the major mistakes that persons make is to neglect talking about estate planning matters openly with their family members. In many cases, this is the kind of issue that people choose to address only when they have been through a major health scare like a major surgery, or heart attack, and finally realize that plans need to be made for the distribution of their assets.

Estate planning advisors recommend that you involve your family in the process. What constitutes your “family” is entirely up to you. For instance, some families may not want to involve daughters-in-law and sons-in-law in these discussions, while some may not.

The meeting with family members can be a semi-formal event where you can discuss the present state of your finances, and how you plan to leave your assets. Having a meeting like this allows children to speak up about their own wishes and desires. Ask your children about their desires- don’t assume that they will bring up the issue on their own. Children very often do not want to talk about estate distribution because it seems morbid, or as if they have been considering their parent’s death.

It’s best that everybody who is mentioned in your will knows exactly what you plan to do with your wealth after you pass on. Never leave matters to the decision-making capabilities or common sense of your family members. The worst thing that you could possibly do is to plan out your will in secret, and shock your family during the reading of the will.

You don’t necessarily have to leave behind your possessions to your children after your passing. Some assets like precious heirlooms, antique furniture, or mementos can be gifted to children who have a desire for these things while you are still alive. This can help take the edge off for some of those children who may feel that the provisions of your will were not favorable to them.

Make sure that your will reflects any recent changes in your family. Any marriages, deaths, or children have to be included. Make sure that your will is frequently updated to avoid any nasty surprises later. Failure to update your will when you have remarried, or when one child has gotten divorced, or has had a baby, can have devastating consequences for your estate and your family.